Spain has always been on my travel shortlist but, if I’m being honest, I wasn’t sure about Barcelona. Perhaps it was because of their differing heritage and culture from the rest of Spain or their desire to break away. Whatever the reason, I was wrong! Barcelona is truly remarkable and one week was not enough!
I like to cram as many explorations as possible into a trip, often planning day trip excursions to neighboring towns as well, but on this week-long trip, I happily remained in Barcelona, soaking up everything the city has to offer. Prior to arrival, I often prep a list of potential activities in order to avoid wasting time wondering what there is to do. Of course, I will also leave room for local suggestions and try not to plan things back to back to allow time for spontaneity but I always have at least an idea of what I will do. I never accomplish all of it and, for this post, I’m sharing my planning and actual lists for your recommendation pleasure.
My original planning list included the following:
- Basilica de la Segrada Familia
- La Boqueria Market
- Parc Güell
- La Rambla & Placa Reial Square
- Montjuic Castle
- Parc del Laberint d’Horta
- Bunker del Carmel
- Sagrat Cor (summit of Mt Tibidabo)
- Casa Batllo
- Parc de la Ciutadella
- Devour Barcelona Food Tours
- BCN Kitchen Cooking Classes
- Free Walking Tours 11am & 3pm
- Soccer Game at Camp Nou
- Flamenco Dancing Performance
Neighborhoods Worth Exploring:
- Gothic Quarter
- El Raval
Day Trip Options:
- Costa Brava
- Costa Daurada
- Montserrat (hike to monastery)
- Sitges or Selva de Mar (beaches)
And here’s a photo journal reflecting what I actually ended up doing each day:
Exploring the neighborhoods of Gracia and La Sagrada Familia, outside tour of Casa Batllo, and purchasing bottles of €3 wine at the local grocery!
Exploring the neighborhoods of Poble-sec and L’Eixample, Parc de la Ciutadella, Montjuic: National Museum of Art, Magic fountain, Moritz brewery, Sagrada Familia and Tarantos for flamenco show in Placa Reial
La Boqueria Market cooking class with BCN Kitchen, exploring the Gothic Quarter and visiting the Picasso museum
Wandering around Parc Güell, ice cream at Dela Crem, music at Palau, tropical drinks at Paradiso
Thursday – Food Festival “Tast a la Rambla”, more time exploring the Gothic Quarter, mojitos on Barcelonetta Beach, dinner at Bro Room
Tips & Other Recommendations:
Take a Cooking Class
I love joining cooking classes while traveling! I get a taste of the local cuisine, meet fellow travelers, learn about the cultural foods of the country, and stock up on local food recommendations from a chef. What’s not to love about that? My cooking class with BCN Kitchen was no different. I used “hostelgeeks5” for a discount and selected the market shopping and cooking class option. The kitchen was located in the back of the popular market, La Boqueria, and included shopping for the ingredients in our dishes.
At the end of the class I asked the chef for a list of places she would take her friends and family when they visit as well as where she frequents in her free time. I wish I’d started my trip with this cooking class because, by the time I received this list, my trip was more than halfway over.
Here’s a few of the highlights from her list. I’m sure they are all worthy of a visit!
- For Lunch/Dinner – La Xampanyeria, El Glop, La Vinateria del Call
- For Sweet Treats – Tomo Il or Caelum
- For Catalan Food – La Pubilla – Placa de la Llibertat, 23
- For Tapas – Bar Pinotxo, El 58, Tapas 24, l’Anxoveya, Cal Pep
- For Drinks – La Vinya del Senyor, Bar Rubi, Collage, Edge Brewing, Polaroid, Milano, La Isobela, Nevermind, Jamboree
Book Classes & Walking Tours for the start of your trip
Classes and walking tours are a great way to meet people, a perfect opportunity to ask a local for recommendations, and a way to orient yourself to the city and local culture. Booking these for the start of your trip allow you to take full advantage of all that you learn and gain from them. Highly recommend!
Avoid La Rambla as much as possible
La Rambla is a well-known street filled with souvenirs, street vendors, and buskers. It is also the location of the terrorist attack and the place you’re most likely to be a victim of pickpocketing. Barcelona has earned a bad rap for pickpocket theft and most if these crimes take place on or around La Rambla. It’s mostly a tourist trap and with so much else this city has to offer, you might as well avoid this strip.
Book Tickets for Gaudi’s Works Online
Avoid disappointment and ensure you have your time of day pick for any of Gaudi’s masterpieces by booking online. I prioritized Parc Güell and La Sagrada Familia and was able to skip the lines by reserving my tickets online. This is especially important for the Parc because they only allow a certain number of people in at a time. If you walk/travel all the way up there and then have to wait around to get it or possibly not be able to get inside, you will be sorely disappointed and frustrated. Truth.
It seems nearly impossible to tackle all of these fabulous spots – and I certainly wasn’t going to do it all in just one week – but there’s no harm in trying! Happy Planning!